As a stepmom who plays the active mother role in my stepdaughter’s life, there is nothing in the entire world more frustrating, hurtful, or annoying than someone informing me – without prompting, usually – that I’m not her “real” mom. In the 3.3 seconds I take to breathe after this comes out of someone’s mouth, I go from namaste to nama-stay-the-hell-away-from-you . And it’s not because I don’t understand the alternative perspective but because I feel as though there’s an automatic assumption that I’ve decided I’m Little B’s mom or am trying to take her Bio-Mom’s place without any consideration for the individual situation.
So, to clarify a bit, here’s a brief overview of my life:
I wake her up, get her ready in the morning, drop her off at daycare, and pick her up. I cook her dinner, play and learn with her, tell her stories, and kiss her goodnight every night. She usually calls me Madelynn, and she’ll occasionally tell me I’m her mom. My partner and I call her our daughter, because that’s what she is. Her Bio-Mom isn’t very involved, although she goes through her phases. Sometimes that’s a good thing for Little B, and sometimes it’s not. We also call her Bio-Mom’s daughter, and B calls her Mommy, because that’s what she is.
I’m her stepmom.
I’m 100% okay with that.
Her Bio-Mom is doing what she feels is best right now, and so am I. My partner and I are raising our daughter, and I sincerely hope Bio-Mom will be joining us in that endeavor, because we’re raising a truly amazing little girl. Nothing that I do, say, or think will ever change the fact that, at the end of the day when she’s tucked into bed and I’m wondering how I managed to get lucky enough to have her, I’m not the one who gave her life.
The only thing that will change that (which I feel like many of us often forget) is more her choice than it is mine. When my partner and I decided to live together, he was a single father who told me that he wanted a parenting partner and a mom. I made the decision to accept that role. Little B has and will always have the option to make the decision that I’m her mom, and I will love and care for her exactly the same.
Even though I’m her mom, her Bio-Mom is too.
Our family functions differently than most, and we’re well aware of that, but I can’t stand the unending expectation that I’m trying to take the Bio-Mom’s place. I don’t need or want to take her place, because I have my own. And while, yes, I am legally considered her stepmom, Little B, my partner, and nearly everyone in our life acknowledges me as her mom. That doesn’t take away from Bio-Mom’s contribution to her life, but it does honor mine.
And, believe it or not, the Bio-Mom happens to agree with me, because we aren’t nemeses. We share a daughter who, as of this writing, is almost entirely supported by me and my partner, and we, as a family, are okay with that. Society may be less so, but I refuse to fall into the socially acceptable mindset that it has to be a competition. We’re a blended family, and we’re all aware that at the end of the day, the biggest difference between a stepmom and a mom is simple: there isn’t one.
[Note: I’m aware that my situation is not typical or identical to many parents out there facing blended family situations. If you’re a stepmom who is adamantly not “mom”, or a Bio-Mom who couldn’t stomach the idea of the stepmom being “mom”, that’s up to you. Your family is its own entity, and nobody can tell you how to conduct your family. This is how my family operates, and I’d never say that anybody else’s should function identically to my own.]